The Story for the
Fourth Sunday of Advent
December 20, 2020
prepared by the Rev’d Rhonda Waters
This Advent, we are not reading the usual lectionary readings. Instead, we have crafted an Advent series that tells the story of God’s saving work through the lens of four pairs or individuals from the Bible who reveal the
transformative power of hope in God.
On Sunday, we will hear these stories in a variety of ways – Bible readings, stories, poems, and songs.
The Story of Mary
On the fourth Sunday in Advent, we are going to hear from Mary. In fact, we are going to present our Christmas pageant so we are going to hear from Mary and Joseph and angels and shepherds and even Caesar Augustus. But, in preparation, you are invited to focus on Mary (who really is the star of the show – at least until the baby is born).
Read the Biblical story of Mary’s visit from the angel, her visit to Elizabeth, and the song she sings here: Luke 1:26-56
Read the story as developed in Rhonda’s sanctified imagination and shared as a progressive pageant over the 4 Sundays in Advent plus Christmas Eve last year here: Mary’s Story
Something to Do
From Generation to Generation
Mary’s song, often called The Magnificat because that is the first word in its Latin translation, links her hope and her faith and her experience of God to her ancestors. She reaches all the way back to Abraham and Sarah – the people with whom we began our Advent journey.
What hope lives in you that has its roots in your ancestors – either the literal past generations of your biological family or the past generations of your chosen lineage? Tell someone a story about those ancestors.
We called this week “Living Hope” because Mary is quite literally bringing hope to birth. Celebrate living hope this week by rejoicing in the greenery of the season.
- If you haven’t yet put up a Christmas tree, consider putting it up but leaving it without decorations for a few days. If you have already put up your Christmas tree, bask in its beauty.
- Find other places to bring greenery into your home – wreaths or bows or garlands. Get a new houseplant or pay extra attention to the ones you already have.
- Go for a wintery walk and admire how much green there actually still is, even with the leaves gone for the winter.
Something to Wonder
What is your relationship to Mary? Do you think of her mostly as a character in a story? Does she have a role in your faith? Do you mostly forget about her except at Christmas time? Does she make you uncomfortable?
However you answer the question, take some time to wonder about it. Why is that your response to Mary? Where did you learn it? What impact has it had on your faith?
If you are responsible for the faith formation of someone else, what relationship to Mary would you like to teach? Why? And how might you do that?
What hope are your nurturing?
What are you doing to help it grow?
Something to Learn
Mary in Art
Mary is the subject of a great deal of art in all forms, spanning centuries. Take a look at these collections:
A beautiful array of timeless images — both classical and modern — to honor the Virgin Mary, the spiritual mother to us all. by
The Cult of the Virigin Mary in the Middle Ages: The Metropolitan Museum in New York City
Looking at Mary with modern mom eyes – for a good laugh but also a good point
Something to Pray
Holy God, we do not always understand your word or your ways.
Give us wisdom and imagination and courage as we learn and grow.
The story this week has made me wonder about…
(what questions are still on your heart?)
Receive my questions and help me hear your answers.
The story this week has filled me with…
(how are you feeling?)
Accept my praise, heal my hurt, ease my worry.
The story this week has reminded me of…
(are there situations or people you are thinking of?)
Be with all who are in need of you.
In Jesus’ name, we pray.